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"Four German 150-mm Guns" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report on German 150-mm artillery was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 45, April 1, 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Although 150-mm (5.9 in) guns have been standard in the German army from the beginning of the war, information regarding them has always been both scanty and unreliable. This is due to the fact that guns of this caliber are not used on a scale comparable with other German calibers, and the data that has been available often failed to distinguish between the various models, so that evidence tended to be contradictory.

a. The 150-mm (15-cm) K 16

The 150-mm K 16 differs from the other 15-cm guns mentioned below by reason of its appreciably heavier projectile. While the ammunition of the other three types is, in general, interchangeable, the K 16 fires ammunition peculiar to itself and is unable to fire that of the other models.

This gun, like the rest of the model "16" range of field guns, must be regarded as obsolete. Nevertheless it may well be met as a coast defense weapon or in some other static role.

(1) Characteristics

(a) The buffer and recuperator are situated below the piece.

(b) A large three-ribbed collar surrounds the piece just forward of the breech ring.

(c) The breech ring is cylindrical in shape, implying a screw-type breech block.

(d) The trail is of box-type and terminates in a spade of massive dimensions.

(2) The gun

Length of piece       42 cals
Weight in action11.77 tons (U.S.)
Elevation-3° to +42°

(3) Ammunition

(a) The projectile has the following characteristics:

Name     Type     Weight     Fuze
15-cm Hbgr 16 (Haubitzgranate -- how shell) HE Capped 113 lbs Percussion: Hbgr Z.17/23 or Hbgr Z.17/23 umg
T&P: Dopp Z.16 mK or Dopp Z.16 mF.
15-cm Hbgr 16 umg (umgeandert -- converted) HE Capped 113 lbs Percussion: AZ.f. Hbgr
T&P: Dopp Zs/60 (Ms)

(b) Propellant -- The propellant has three charges of a tubular nitroglycerine composition - small, medium and large.

Small charge -- 16 lb Ngl R.P. (nitroglycerine Röhrenpulver - tubular powder) + 3 oz igniter powder.

Medium -- 26 lb Ngl R.P. + 3 oz igniter powder.

Large -- 29 lb Ngl R.P. + 3 oz igniter powder.

(c) Performance

Maximum range - 21,872 yds

Maximum muzzle velocity - 2,480 f/s

b. The 150-mm K 18

The 15-cm K 18 is probably the model most generally in use at present; as mentioned below the 15-cm K 39 is presumably replacing it, but this process may occupy some time. The 15-cm K 18 has all the typical features of the "18" class of guns such as the recuperator above and the buffer below the piece and the rectangular breech ring with crank-operated breech block opening to the right; an identification feature is provided by the two compensators which are of a different type from those fitted to other German field pieces.

[German 150-mm (K 18) Gun (WWII Artillery)]

(1) The Gun

Length of piece       55 cals
Weight in action13.86 tons (U.S.)
Elevation-4° to +45°

(2) Ammunition

(a) The projectile has the following characteristics:

Name     Type     Weight     Fuze
15-cm K (Kanone -- cannon) Gr. 18 HE 94.75 lb Percussion: AZ.23 (0.15 or 0.25)
T&P: Dopp Zs/90
15-cm Gr.19 rot Be. Anti-concrete 95.37 lb Base: Bd.Z.f. 15-cm Gr.19 Be.

(b) Propellant

Small charge -- 20 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.

Medium -- 39 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.

Large -- 43 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.

Alternative charges of a double base propellant containing nitroglycerine are also in use.

(c) Performance

Maximum range - 27,340 yds

Muzzle velocity - 2,034 to 2,838 f/s

c. 15-cm K in Mrs Laf. (150-mm gun on mortar carriage (Mörser Lafette))

The fact that this gun is capable of firing the same projectiles (see below) as the 15-cm K 18 and K 39 suggests that the piece resembles either of these rather than the 15-cm K 16. The Mörser-Lafette may be the mounting of the 21-cm Mrs 18 (also used by the 17-cm K in Mrs Laf) or that of some earlier model.

(1) Ammunition

The same projectiles are used as for the 15-cm K 18. In addition the following types are fired.

(a) Projectile

Name     Type     Weight     Fuze
15-cm Sprgr (Sprenggranate -- HE) L/4.6 Kz.* (m.Haube) HE capped 100 lb Percussion: AZ.23 (0.15 or 0.25)
T&P: Dopp Zs/90
15-cm Sprgr L 4.5 Bdz (m.Haube) HE capped 100 lb Base: Bd.Z.c./38
15-cm Pz-Sprgr L/3.8 (m.Haube) AP (C?)
BC (ballistic cap) shell
100 lb Base: Bd.Z.c./38

*Kopfzunder - point detonating fuze

(b) Propellant

This gun is unique among 15-cm artillery in that only one charge is fired. This consists of 31 lb R.P.C./32 + 5 oz of igniter powder. The propellant R.P.C./32 is tubular in form and is composed as follows:

Nitrocellulose       64.76%
Ethyl centralite5.71%
Sodium nitrate0.56%
Volatile matter1.90%

Alternatively a charge composed of R.P.C./38 may also be used. The composition of this propellant was not shown in the report.

d. 15-cm K 39 (150-mm K 39)

This gun fires the same projectiles as the 15-cm K 18. Formerly a semi-AP and AP shell were also fired but these are now obsolete.

The propellant consists of:

Small charge -- 20 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.

Medium -- 36 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.

Large -- 41 lb tubular diglycol + 3 oz igniter powder.


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